Orange Alpine 160 £3200

Long, slack and low enduro bike

BikeRadar score 3.5/5

The Orange Alpine 160 frame remains unchanged for 2013. It may not be the fastest when it comes to pushing the pedals, but it’s a beast downhill and it’s built to last.

Ride & handling: No surprises – just hit the descents hard

The geometry is as straight-talking as the single pivot suspension system – this Orange is built for speed. A long wheelbase and slack head angle mean it feels incredibly balanced on flat-out, gravity-fuelled descents and through long, drifty corners.

The lengthy reach and low stack height force riders to crouch down over the bottom bracket and lower their chests, but feels balanced rather than stretched out. It’s this low rider, low centre of gravity position that made us feel like we’d just switched auto pilot on through berms and high-speed corners.

The snake-like geometry feels totally planted and confidence inspiring when gravity is on your side, but it does mean more effort is required to be dynamic on slower speed technical trails. 

When it came to pushing the Alpine enduro race-style, it wasn’t the fastest on the pedalling sections. The simple swingarm layout puts a lot of emphasis on the performance of the shock, and flicking it to Trail mode creates a more positive pedalling platform.  

The stiff-chassised Fox 36 Float forks, combined with a Maxxis Minion tyre up front, meant the Alpine held its line through gnarly rock and root sections, but at only 700mm wide the Truvativ bars lack leverage and prevent the Orange from being a proper point-and-shoot machine.

At 15kg (33lb) the Alpine isn’t light, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad climber. The overall length and 74-degree seat angle allow you to keep weight between the wheels on medium gradient ascents, preventing the dreaded wandering front wheel that most slack head-angled bikes suffer.

It’s not the most efficient when it comes to putting the power down, but the sorted geometry and predictability inspire you to  hit every corner faster than the last, and go flat out through otherwise bike-bending boulders. It is, in short, a blast.

Frame & equipment: Tough frame but needs wider bars and a dropper post

The standard Alpine 160 retails at £3,200, but you can customise your build with wider bars, a dropper post and bespoke paint colour. The frame boasts a folded monocoque down tube, tapered head tube and 12x135mm Maxle screw-thru axle for huge stiffness. 

Bolted between the single-pivot swingarm and mainframe is a Fox Factory CTD shock as standard, which makes it easy to flick between damper settings – Climb, Trail and Descend – without confusion.

The Alpine comes with an SLX clutch rear derailleur that keeps chain slap under control for a quiet ride, and 2x10 gearing. It’s perfect for steady up, fast down riding.

Hope hubs on Mavic rims are in keeping with the intentions of the Alpine, and Avid Elixir 5 brakes offer good stopping power and modulation. Spec is solid, but not fantastic in terms of value, and adding a dropper post will tip the scales the wrong side of 15kg (33lb).

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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